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Poster: light into ashes Date: Apr 9, 2013 9:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: What the fuck you want, Tell?

A lot of people who saw the Dead in the '60s asserted that Pigpen was the true star of the show. I think that element of showmanship is part of it - the rest of the band could jam all night, & maybe some of that would fly over people's heads, but then Pigpen would come up & strut & engage the audience on a more primal level.
It's more than evident to me that the true vibe of Pigpen only came from seeing him; just hearing him on tape, we're getting only part of the package. What's on tape doesn't entirely explain those ecstatic Fillmore audiences clapping along & cheering him.

But the other thing is the music - we're talking about Pigpen the singer, but really all he had to do was deliver some competent vocals & then step out of the way. Without Midnight Hour, Lovelight, Same Thing, or Caution, let alone many of the blues covers like Smokestack or Schoolgirl, the early Dead would have been a much narrower outfit - not to mention pieces they expanded in '70-71 like Good Lovin', Hard to Handle or Easy Wind. A lot of great Dead music wouldn't have been played without him, which I think is a more important testament than how well he could sing or copy the classic blues vocals.

To digress a bit, Ghostofpig favors the 4/14/72 Good Lovin', and Europe '72 has some great examples but my own favorite is 4/25/71 (on the Ladies & Gentlemen CD) which also has a perfect marriage of rap & music, if you don't mind the story content. Interestingly, the Good Lovin' the next night (4/26/71) is without any rap & takes a different, more pounding approach.